That used to mean something rather benign. It meant you stomped through mud or played with frogs. It meant you got into a tussle with your best friend right before (or after) you laughed together at a pack of little girls. At worst ‘boys being boys’ meant cutting school to go to a movie or stealing candy from a store shelf.
As Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changing.”
In the news, two 12 year old boys dropped a shopping cart four stories unto a shopper below. She remains in critical condition. A 10 year old pulled a pistol on a woman threatening to take his Halloween candy. A 12 year old sits in a Florida jail, the youngest person ever charged in that state with capital murder. He killed his two year-old brother. In Indiana an 11 year-old shot and killed his 6 year-old brother.
These stories just go on and one. It makes me wonder where we are going. What will it be like in 20 years if it keeps getting worse. What is the solution? Better parenting? Stable environment? Is it found in the schools or the home? The problem is so complex I’m not sure anyone really knows where to begin to stop the flow of violence by our children.
I’m going to offer an opinion here, something I typically hesitate to do. I think our children are getting programmed to violence by the things they see around them, on TV, in the news, in movies and video games.
When you are a 6-grader sense of right and wrong is a very fragile thing. That has to start at home. The schools can’t be responsible for instilling values in our children. That must be done by the parents. It has to start somewhere.
Marion Salmon Hedges, the victim of the shopping cart incident lies in a hospital bed clinging to life. Her family and the boy’s families have their lives upended by a stupid prank. A community is shocked and bewildered at how something like this could happen. Police report that the boys were laughing and telling jokes as they were being taken into custody. The arresting officer repeated that the boys were just “Doing it for fun.” I suspect the fun ended when the steel doors slammed shut and the prospect of years locked away started to creep in.
My fear is this issue is a symptom of a much bigger problem, a society so immune to stories like this that people can’t even see the problem much less admit there is one. The status-quo is not good enough and if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
Food for thought—this is not someone else’s problem. We all own it.